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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alabaster AL

How to Choose the Best Interior Designer Program

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Alabaster AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you start? Some future students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Alabaster AL

Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The key difference between them is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Alabaster AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Alabaster Alabama interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
 

Interior Designer Training Programs

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training needed to begin your new profession in Alabaster AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools

Alabaster Alabama interior designer bathroomAfter you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Alabaster AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Alabaster Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Alabaster AL program you enroll in should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Alabaster AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Alabaster AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Alabaster AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Alabaster home, visit the college and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Alabaster AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Designer Program near Alabaster Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Alabaster AlabamaSelecting the right interior design program is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alabaster Alabama.